Need to get from Chiang Mai to Bangkok? Although the two cities are over 400 miles from each other, it’s a pretty well-travelled route with several options. How you choose to take the journey depends on how you like to travel and how much time you have to soak in the incredible views along the way.
Bangkok is a melting pot of markets, food stalls, historical sights, and so much more. Most people will pass through the capital city to get to their next destination, but it’s absolutely a destination in its own right. One minute you’re marvelling at incredible temples, the next you’re at a drag show on the strip. It’s a city of surprises. Whether you’re just passing through or stopping to experience the vibrant city, here are some of the best ways to get from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
Getting from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
If you’re on a budget or you’re going to be travelling for a while, this could be the best option for you. Travelling by bus is the cheapest way to get from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. However, it can take anywhere from 12 to 15 hours, depending on traffic, so if you’re short on time then this might not be the best option.
It’s also worth noting that the bus station Chaing Mai isn’t in the main tourist hub, where most of the hotels and hostels are. But you can easily get there by hopping on a songthaew, which is a shared bus, or by grabbing a taxi to take you from door-to-door. From there, buses leave to start the journey several times a day. People tend to take the night bus so that they don’t miss nearly a whole day of exploring Bangkok or time that could be spent getting to their next destination. However, day buses do provide you with incredible views and snippets of rural Thai life along the way.
There are two types of buses – Express buses and VIP buses. Despite the name, there isn’t actually any difference in time on the Express bus, and you actually get fewer benefits than the VIP ones. Express buses have air conditioning and food, while VIP buses have a team member on board, onboard entertainment, reclining seats, and more legroom. You can even go one step further and hop on the VIP 24 bus, which takes on fewer passengers and has single-row seats, so you don’t have to worry about sitting next to someone if you don’t want to. They also have Wi-Fi, restrooms, power outlets, as well as free water and snacks.
If you’re short on time, or if you just want a simple journey that gets you from A to B, then flying is your best bet. There is one airport in Chiang Mai, so getting to it is easy enough. You have several options, you can hop on an airport bus, take a songthaew, or grab a taxi. From there, it’s a pretty short flight of up to 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can be walking the bustling streets of Bangkok in no time. Prices are fairly reasonable, even during the high season. And especially if you book in advance. You can sometimes find even cheaper deals if you visit in the low season, which is July to October.
Chiang Mai International Airport flies to two airports in Bangkok – Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang Airport, which is a domestic airport. The domestic airport carries the budget airlines Nok Air and AirAsia, while the international airport has a wide range of airlines, although it does also carry Air Asia. Other than that, there isn’t really any difference between the two. The prices are roughly the same and it takes the same amount of time to get to Bangkok. It’s worth checking out which airport is closest to your Bangkok accommodation, though.
Another great option for getting from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, if you have the time, is by train. Travelling by rail will always have lower carbon emissions than a bus or a plane, so if you’re environmentally conscious, this is your best choice. It also gives you the opportunity to experience views you might not have otherwise seen as you pass by rice paddies, forests, and tropical environments, as well as get a look into life in rural Thailand.
The train ride from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is between 11 and 13 hours, depending on what train you take. The morning train takes 11 hours, while the night train takes 13 hours. While the morning train is shorter, you do miss a whole day of exploring the city, and we think a night train is somewhat of a Thailand rite of passage.
Sleeper trains are generally comfortable, too. You have the difference between a first-class ticket and a second-class ticket. A first-class ticket will get you air conditioning, a spot in a two or four-person carriage, and a food cart on board. You can also book the entire two-person carriage to yourself if you want the privacy, and they actually only charge one person the price of 1-and-a-half tickets, instead of two. A second-class ticket usually only has fans and no air conditioning, as well as seats rather than beds. If you really want to save money and think you can handle the heat, then this is a viable option for you, although we think the savings aren’t worth the discomfort.